CHARLOTTE, N.C. As President Barack Obama’s motorcade left Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge Thursday morning, another presidential candidate was out speaking with protesters.
It wasn’t Mitt Romney. It was the lesser-known Green Party candidate for president, Jill Stein.
Stein, a doctor who practices internal medicine, was in the middle of a small group of protesters chanting mantras such as, “This is what democracy looks like.”
Stein uses some of the same rhetoric as the Occupy movement. She champions environmental and financial reforms, which she advocated when she ran against Romney for Massachusetts governor in 2002.
“We have been misdirected in turning over the reins to Wall Street,” she said. “It’s not good for people. It’s not even good business. Small businesses are being crushed.”
Stein proposes a “Green New Deal.” It includes free public higher education, Medicare for everyone, and a 90 percent tax on bonuses for bailed-out bankers. She spoke strongly against Obama and the wealth gap between the top 1 percent and the rest of the country.
Democratic and Republican views, she said, are fundamentally the same, describing the GOP version as rough and cold and the Democratic version as “warm and fuzzy.”
She said she and her running mate, Cheri Honkala, seek to inspire people.
“We’re the only ones who haven’t been bought off by the banks,” she said.
As for her third party candidacy, Stein said it’s important for people to have choices. She said that 2000 Green Party candidate Ralph Nader brought in votes from people who wouldn’t otherwise have voted.
Stein advocates introducing a ranked-voting system to expand the number of choices for voters. The system, used in many countries and several U.S. cities, allows voters to rank candidates by preference.
“While I’m not holding my breath,” she said on her chances of winning, “sometimes unexpected things happen.”